Community urged to report egret nest sightings

Goulburn Broken CMA is keen to hear from anyone who has noticed Eastern Great Egrets nesting in the area.

Great egrets Photo: Catarina Gregson

Populations of three white egret species - Great Egret, Intermediate Egret and Little Egret - are of conservation concern in Victoria.

 “Eastern Great Egrets were recently photographed feeding at  Kinnairds Swamp near Numurkah and Black Swamp near Wunghnu by Numurkah resident Catarina Gregson,” Goulburn Broken CMA Environmental Water Project Officer Jo Wood said.

“We believe the egrets have been attracted by the good feeding habitat that has flourished in response to the environmental water that was delivered to these wetlands late last year.

 “What is of interest to us is that the egrets are currently ‘dressed up’ in breeding plumage, showing black bills and green facial skin instead of the usually yellow, which indicates they may be breeding nearby.

“We currently do not know of any local nesting activity for the species. The only known breeding locations for egrets in Victoria we are aware of are further north at Barmah and Gunbower forests, and Corio in the state’s south.

“So it would be pretty exciting to hear if there are sites nearby where they’ve started breeding.”

Egrets’ nests are usually a platform of twigs in trees over or close to water.  Adult and advanced young birds are white and should be easily observable if the nest is active.

“Many people believe egrets are common birds because they are large and white and therefore readily observable, but their numbers have been greatly reduced through habitat clearance, particularly of wetlands, changes to natural flooding regimes and from being nearly been shot out of existence in the early 1900s for their breeding plumage to adorn ladies’ fashion of the day,” she said.

“Last month we reported Magpie Geese using these wetlands for the first time in 10 years. Knowing there may be egrets in the area is another great indicator that environmental water delivered to these wetlands is achieving its objectives of increasing the plant diversity that provides food and shelter for native animals.’’ 

Please contact Jo Wood on 5822 7700 if you know of any egrets nesting in the region.